Eric Black insists the future is bright for Scottish football – now all parties are pulling in the same direction.
The Aberdeen legend and former Scotland striker has spent much of the last 20 years carving out a reputation as one of the most highly-regarded coaches in English football.
However, first and foremost, he remains a patriot at heart and he was only too happy to accept an invite from long-time pal Malky Mackay to star alongside the likes of Henrik Larsson and Kenny Dalglish in the Scottish FA’s second elite coaching programme masterclass – which focused on the art of attacking.
Eric, Scottish football obviously still means a great deal for you to give up your time as you have done this week.
I love Scottish football and I love Scotland. I’m very patriotic. It’s always great to get back home and see a few familiar faces. Some of them looking a bit older than the last time I saw them…
Your presentation – on and off the training pitch – earned rave reviews from attendees. What did you think of the masterclass overall?
I really like the idea behind it, so all credit to Malky Mackay and his staff for devising the programme. I think the Performance department at the Scottish FA have made massive strides in a relatively short period of time and I think the country will start to see the benefit of their hard work in the background more and more. There are a lot of good things going on. You have to get the balance right between evolution and revolution but I think Malky’s the man to handle that. You have to put your heart and soul into it and I think everyone can see he does that. I think the two-day masterclass was a great success and one of the things I liked most about it was the natural debates that occurred. That was encouraged and I can only see that as a good thing. Without debate you can’t move forward – you just accept where you are. We have a lot of top, top football minds scattered across the game in this country. If we can bring them together and harness that knowledge then we have a real chance to change things for the better.
What do you hope the assembled coaches took away from your sessions?
I know the people present have access to a lot of good information and it’s easy to be swamped by it all. It’s about filtering it and making sure you don’t get lost amongst it all. It’s widely accepted that marginal gains can make a big difference but if the work behind the larger percentages isn’t right than those small ones won’t add up to much. I think a lot of it is about getting the basics right.
Are you encouraged by what you’ve seen?
Looking at the Scottish game as it is now, I think we have a lot of good kids coming through. Maybe there has been self-interest amongst the various stakeholders in the past – or at least that was the common accusation. But I at least feel like we’re all working together now and that’s what Scotland and Scottish football needs. The potential is there.